This is a guest post by Rick Thompson. Rick came to Jesus through the love of the members of FBC Adrian. A decade later, he became pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Nevada, MO, where he has served since.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9–21, ESV)
Good. Evil. They’re words that we hear thrown about nearly every day. They may even be words you use to describe things that affect your lives.
A few years ago, I remember listening to a recording describing an accident between a guy who seemed to look tough and four little old church ladies. The man walks up to the ladies in the car, cigarette hanging from his mouth, arms waving around, and looking like he was yelling. The four little church ladies pepper spray him; wail on him with purses, umbrellas, and even a Bible in the mix; until finally, he runs to his car to get away. There’s a part of each of us that just goes, “Yeah, he got what he deserved!” That is the world’s way of looking at it. But what we see in this scripture is quite different.
In Romans chapters 1 to 11, Paul told of us of all the things God has done for us and why. In chapters 12-16, he got down and dirty on what our lives and doings should look like in response to that: how we relate with our families, the church, and with the world outside.
Really, what it all comes down to is this –we are to put ourselves (our needs, wants, wishes, and desires) on the backburner to everything else. Jesus said it like this – “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me…” (Matt. 16:24 ESV) So Paul expounded on what that is to look like in our lives…
We are to love one another and the world with a genuine love. Not false. Not put on. We should exhort and encourage one another. (How can we possibly do this if we don’t come to church or be involved with one another? But that’s for another day…) Not just to encourage one another, but to outdo one another in showing honor. (V.10) Rejoice with them, for our joy is the joy of Jesus (John 15:11); endure or be patient through trials and tribulations, for our faith is made steadfast (James 1:1-2); and be in constant prayer for them, for our prayer is our faith in action towards them and God.
We are also to love those who stand against and persecute us. We should bless them (v.14), not to wish them evil. Just as Jesus looked down from the cross and cried, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). We should live our lives with them. Suffering with them as they suffer and rejoicing when they rejoice at what life may bring them. Jesus lived this everyday as he walked this earth and we are to follow in like manner. And more than anything, we are never to seek vengeance for those who have wronged us. I want you to think of that statement – “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (V.19) Vengeance for our sins comes in one of two ways. Either the wrath of God will pour down upon us for eternity or it has been poured upon Jesus for our sins. To say that we will get revenge, to say that we will get recompense for wrongs done against us, to say, “Forget God, I will deal with this.” Well, brethren, it is to say that the justice of God is not enough to deal with the wrongs done to us. And if we are to say such, then who is to say that it is enough for the wrongs we have done?
Think about those 4 little church ladies that beat that guy. Think of how much more their love and faith would have spoken to those who witnessed their interaction if they had not been overcome with evil (taking judgment into their own hands) and overcome the evil with good. THAT is how we are to relate to one another – even our enemies.
This devotion is a part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.